Keeping the citizens of the United States safe is the greatest gift our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Guardians provide. They are the ones who put their lives on the line every day, not just at Christmas, to ensure our safety. Americans could not ask for more. Regarding the very senior military leadership, that’s a different story. But there is an inclination toward generosity at this time of year, and who better than the Pentagon flag officers and top executives to demonstrate this trait. However, they need to know what Americans want from them. If there were four presents under the Christmas tree coming from the occupants of the Pentagon E-Ring for which U.S. citizens would be grateful, the following suggestions fit the bill.
Good Decisions, for a Change
First, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the service chiefs could all chip in and guarantee Americans a subscription to the “Good-Decision-of-the-Month Club™ (GDMC).” This gift would be a way of saying to everyone that the military leaders know their judgment has been a little off lately, and here’s their promise to do better. To ensure the decisions are from Pentagon leadership only, a certificate comes with each subscription guaranteeing none of the decisions have been coordinated with the White House. Involvement by the White House voids any guarantee of the decision being “good.” A GDMC subscription offers some assurance the military hierarchy will work diligently to make 12 good decisions, one a month, in Calendar Year 2022.
More Bang for Our Buck
As the nation is experiencing Biden inflation and everything is costing more, the Pentagon could give the taxpayer a break by adopting this simple suggestion. Joe Gould writing for Defense News underscores the impact the White House-induced inflation is causing on the current price of weapons. Gould explains, “The prospect of increased weapons costs and rising wages are already causing significant problems for Pentagon planners as they craft President Joe Biden’s upcoming budget proposal for fiscal 2023, defense experts say.” There is a remedy, however. Compress the time for developing and fielding new weapons. Complex weapon systems like fighters take ridiculously long times to field. The Joint Strike Fighter later named the F-35 program, started in the mid-1990s and, according to Air Force Magazine’s John Tirpak, might not complete delivery of the Air force complement of jets until the 2050s – wow, a 60-year fighter program.
And each year, the U.S. taxpayer can hear the Defense Department’s procurement cash register go, KACHING, KACHING, KACHING. To stop that dollar hemorrhaging sound, the military services could mandate fighter programs take no more than five years from concept to first jet on the ramp, ships no more than eight to ten years to begin sea trial. Make it part of the competition. Achieving faster development and fielding of weapons would be an enormous gift to those paying the bills.
All’s Fair …
The Department of Defense should establish merit as the only discriminator for hiring and recruiting. When merit is the primary criteria for bringing on new members to the U.S. Armed Forces, there is a better chance those charged with fighting and winning will be successful. Using proven capabilities and education should not just apply to vetting front-line warfighters but also the civilian supervisors and executives. Finding people to fill critical career professional civilian and political positions who have demonstrated appropriate skills and have experience will drive acquiring a better workforce. When the Defense Department fails to hire people because they are competent, the result is a kakistocracy, a purposeful bringing on of incompetence. If merit is the standard, the American taxpayer will get the quality bureaucracy (Hey, it’s possible.) for which it’s doling out the big bucks.
The Truth Can Set Us Free
Lastly, one of the most sought-after and valuable gifts the Department of Defense could give to civilian citizens of the United States is to publicly acknowledge people do know the difference between truth and lies. For example, please do not attempt to convince the public the retreat from Afghanistan was a success when nearly every television in the U.S. showed what a debacle of leadership and decision-making it was. (See gift suggestion #1 above) Do not insinuate the magnificent job of the warfighters on the ground and the airmen flying the airlift missions somehow reflects credit on the decision-makers. It does not. The operators got the job done despite the poor decisions. Do not testify before Congress as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff did this year, saying, though he had not read about nor understood “Critical Race Theory,” nonetheless, it’s a theory that military members should read and consider. That’s insulting, and “John Q. Public” will appreciate the gift of not being insulted.
So, there you go. These are just a few dynamite-gift ideas the military leadership might consider giving the American people – little stocking-stuffers, if you will. Merry Christmas.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
~ Read more from Dave Patterson.
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